San Francisco is going through one of its evolutions. The last big one I was here for was was the late 90s tech boom, with all the growth and business revolution that followed.
Before then, the working class could afford to live here. Artists could afford to live here. San Francisco was the home to freaks and artists and those dancers-to-a-different-drum.
In a few short years, the art collectives were pushed out. Freaks drifted away. Seems like half the people of color were gentrified out of their homes.
And the next decade took care of the stragglers.
We’re in it again: in the midst of chaos and imbalance. This time, it’s the Tech Industry – that mighty, unassailable engine of ingenuity and economic prosperity, brought low by the simple realization that people prefer to work from their homes.
I think this one will will last as long as the last one. A decade of chaos and imbalance and heartbreak as the commercial real estate industry goes straight to hell (and hopefully takes every loathsome YIMBY asshole with it).
The loss of so much of the tax base will terribly hurt San Francisco now and for years to come. This ball is just getting rolling, too. I can’t imagine anything other than widespread gut-wrenching economic upheaval for businesses in the downtown area that depended on foot traffic. My dear friend Julie who opened Julie’s Kitchen, for example. What will happen to her?
What happens when it shakes out? What happens when the commercial buildings, empty for decades, are finally torn down and replaced with residential towers? Do the rents come way down? Do the artists come back? Do we see a return of the freaks? Will I still be alive to see it? Who the hell knows?
The answer won’t be found on twitter. The answer will not come from morally bankrupt YIMBYs using images of Black people on the street or fentanyl ODs to achieve their short-term political ends.